‘Obscene’ Videos Prompt Arrests in Japan

Joanne Cachapero
TOKYO — Five men were arrested over the weekend, including the head of the screening department of the Nihon Ethics of Video Association (NEVA) Katsumi Ono, for failure to screen two DVDs that did not comply with obscenity standards.

NEVA’s panel of scholars, former journalists and film experts screens adult videos produced by 90 Japanese production companies to determine if they comply with standards and regulations.

Ono was arrested on suspicion of assisting sales of the explicit DVDs after approving the videos, in June 2006, without properly screening them for potentially obscene content. Reportedly, 13,000 copies of the explicit DVDs were available on the Japanese market.

The other four men that were arrested were video industry executives on suspicion of selling the DVDs, including h.m.p. Productions President Hiroyuki Gorokawa and Attone Communication President Yukio Umezawa.

NEVAKO stated that the producers should be held responsible for distributing of the DVDs, since the association has no control over sales.

In Japan, explicit sexual activity and genitalia shown in videos must be obscured by a process known as “mosaicing.”

The two videos were produced by h.m.p. and contained scenes showing genitalia, which were mosaiced but, according to authorities, viewers could still make out body parts.

The release of the videos sparked competition from other video companies to produce more explicit content, which also coincided with what police authorities said was a relaxing of guidelines by NEVA. The shift in standards was encouraged by producers including Umezawa, and apparently was supported by Ono.

The rise of explicit content available on the Internet has also been blamed for the loosening of obscenity standards in Japan, and recently, adult production companies have been pushing for less strict regulations. The arrests mark the first time that an ethics association official has been implicated in a case involving adult videos, and may lead to more stringent regulations.

NEVA was formed in 1972 and funded by adult film production companies, which then helped to compile standards and restrictions for the industry, including the decision to ban displays of explicit sex or genitalia.

After the arrests, the director-general of the NEVA denied the association had become more permissive after the industry began seeing less video products submitted for screening and shrinking group membership.